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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Poston (R)

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Capitol Newsletter from Rep. John Poston

Friday, December 6, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

On Monday, the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance Committee held its first hearing on the problems that have plagued the Department of Human Services this summer and fall. The agency, which has seen its commissioner and assistant commissioner resign this year, is in disarray.

 Here’s a recap of what we’ve learned about DHS in the last six months:

  • The Legislative Auditor reported on “pervasive fraud” in the childcare system. The DHS inspector general was placed on investigate leave for her role in this – and it still getting paid.
  • Employees have been fired, mistreated, or retaliated against for raising concerns about agency practices.
  • DHS owes the federal government $30 million due to overpayments to two tribal governments.
  • DHS overpaid chemical dependency providers, which costs taxpayers $70 million.
  • DHS paid out $3 million for people who were already dead.
  • DHS broke the law more than 200 times on contracts totaling more than $52 million.
  • DHS is now being scrutinized for not accommodating employees with disabilities.

Those issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

At the hearing, the committee got an update from the agency’s new commissioner on “progress” she’s making in addressing the problems at DHS. During her testimony, the commissioner indicated that no one has been disciplined for tens of millions in overpayments to tribes, and was reluctant to endorse our calls for a full-scale audit of all DHS spending.

A full, top-to-bottom audit of the agency would help us get a better understanding of the depths of the mess at DHS and I am concerned by the new commissioner’s resistance to this idea.

Either way, it’s clear that accountability is needed at the agency and Monday’s hearing is a first step in getting this agency under control.

Minnesota taxpayers deserve much, much better than this.

I will continue to keep folks updated on this issue as we make preparations for the coming legislative session. Until then, please be sure to contact me if you have any questions or concerns related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4293 or via email at

Have a great weekend,